Paul Pierce’s days in the NBA officially are numbered.
The former Boston Celtics legend and probable future Hall of Famer told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn that he hasn’t made a decision on whether he’ll return this fall for his 19th NBA season, but if he does, it “certainly” will be his last.
“Well, we always say it’s 51-49. I get 51 percent of the vote and the rest of (the family) gets 49,” Pierce told Washburn in Cleveland at Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday. “(My wife’s) input carried a lot of weight. We’ll figure out some things. I know I don’t want to be sitting at home, whatever I do, regardless. If I come back, it will be one more (season) and that will be it. No doubt.”
It’s not that the 38-year-old Pierce necessarily wants to leave the game. He’s just unsure he can physically prepare himself to play the 82-game slate (plus playoffs) that one more season requires. Pierce told the Globe he spoke with good friend and former Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett (40 years old) on Tuesday about the decision.
“Really, it’s all about how I feel mentally, getting up and I’m thinking about the grind,” Pierce said. “People don’t understand, I think a lot of guys retire because of what it takes to (get on the court) each season. You can take the grind once you are in it, but getting ready for the grind is the hard part.”
There’s also a point of dignity for Pierce, who statistically just came off the worst season of his career. If he can’t help a team win — which his 18 minutes and six points per game leaned toward suggesting last season — it seems he doesn’t want to just ride the bench and disrespect the game, his teammates or himself.
“I thought I had one more good year (this past season), but obviously I didn’t like how it all went with my role,” he told Washburn. “I’m still just trying to figure it out. A lot has got to do with my role I’m going to play. To come back and sit 82 games, I don’t know if I can do that.”
Barring a trade this summer or next season, it seems unlikely Pierce will play another minute for the Celtics organization that drafted him before his career ends, as many fans undoubtedly hoped might happen.
Pierce has two years remaining on the three-year, $10 million contract he signed last offseason.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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